John Hume and his legacy

 

Sir, – Watching the impressive funeral Mass for John Hume, I noted his son said, “He was interested in every person he met.” That is so true for me.

Some years ago I was in Dublin Airport when I saw John Hume walking towards me. I had great admiration for him and as a total stranger I asked him could I shake his hand. He said in his beautiful Derry accent, “Would you like a wee hug?”

When I heard of his death, feeling very sad, I recalled that hug with great pride. – Yours, etc,

PAT O’FLYNN (Mrs),

Glasnevin, Dublin 11.

Sir, – I was a young junior hotel manager in my first managerial position, just returned to Ireland from a training period at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

It was 1969 and there were residents of Derry who were taking refuge in the Lough Swilly Hotel in Buncrana. One night John Hume came to the hotel. He had a special request. Could we get a local musician to come and play An Chuileann?

A young man from Buncrana arrived with a tin whistle and played An Chuileann many times during the long evening and night.

These were difficult times and John Hume had such a steadying influence. May he rest in peace. – Yours, etc,

TOM MYTHEN,

Malahide, Co Dublin.

Sir, – John Hume would occasionally call to visit my late father, one of the last remnants of the old Nationalist Party, at our north Derry home in the early days of the Troubles.

My most vivid memory of one of those visits is when he and his driver called late one night in the summer of 1973, returning from the funeral of Senator Paddy Wilson who together with his friend Irene Andrews had been brutally murdered.

John was naturally very distressed and happily accepted the liquid refreshments on offer. Yet he persisted for another long 25 years in pursuing the peace that he always knew was achievable. Lesser men would simply have given up. – Yours, etc,

RORY E MAC FLYNN,

Blackrock Co Dublin.

Sir, – On February 18th, 1965, John Hume was one of three men who mounted the steps at Stormont for a meeting with the prime minister, Terence O’Neill. Led by the unionist mayor of Derry, AW Anderson, the other member of the delegation was Eddie McAteer, the Nationalist MP who would lose his Foyle seat to John Hume in 1969.

The three men had led a motorcade of a reported 2,000 vehicles from Derry to Belfast to demand that the new university proposed for Northern Ireland be located in Derry. Back in Derry, shops and public houses remained closed as support came from across the whole community, nationalist and unionist, for the University for Derry Committee of which John was chairman.

As John’s widow and lifelong helpmate, Pat, said years later in a BBC documentary, at the time John became – by virtue of his position – “the spokesperson for the city”. He was 28 years of age. – Yours, etc,

JOHN DREDGE,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Sir, – A fond memory says a lot about the humanity and decency of the man. When I was as a penniless student in the late 1980s, hitching a lift from univers in Galway to Donegal on a wet Friday evening, I was delighted when a car stopped just north of Sligo, bringing me all the way to the outskirts of Derry.

When the driver, John Hume, found out I was studying French and Irish, he became visibly excited and we spent the remainder of the journey chatting only in both languages. – Yours, etc,

LIAM HARKIN,

Malin, Co Donegal.

Sir, – The outpouring of gratitude and respect for the life of the late John Hume, and his family’s wishes for adherence to the Covid-19 restrictions around his funeral, surely symbolises the “united island” that John strove all his life to achieve. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS BELLEW,

Dundalk, Co Louth.

Sir, – The dignity, restraint and social responsibility shown during and after the funeral of John Hume (irishtimes.com and Home News, August 5th) was in marked contrast to that displayed during the recent funeral of Bobby Storey. The difference in style and substance speaks volumes for the respective qualities of all concerned. – Yours, etc,

KEN BROWNE,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Yes, the Northern Ireland peace process has stemmed the violence, but the two communities remain divided on so many levels.

The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) is a deliberative body consisting of members elected to the parliaments of the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. Its purpose is to foster common understanding between elected representatives from these jurisdictions. John Hume was a great supporter of its work.

As a member of BIPA, I am acutely aware that John Hume’s legacy demands of us to continue to work for reconciliation and collaboration not only on the island of Ireland but amongst and between our closest neighbours. – Yours, etc,

Senator VICTOR BOYHAN,

Seanad Éireann, Dublin 2.

Sir, – As regular visitors to Donegal for 28 years, we were privileged to meet John Hume on at least six occasions during the past 15 years. In truth most of these accidental meetings were my wife’s, while walking along the Foyle near Moville or in Kealys restaurant in Greencastle.

On the first occasion John thought my wife looked lost and offered her assistance. On one memorable evening in Kealys our then student son met John. I suggested to our son to avail of the opportunity to greet a man who would be spoken of in the same breath as Parnell. And so it has come to pass.

What followed was a near 15-minute conversation. Once university was mentioned the teacher in John engaged and modules were discussed along with exam advice. It was nice to see him connect so easily with the latest generation. It was also a pleasure meeting Pat and their daughter and they were so generous in sharing John with admiring passers by. We extend to them our sincere sympathy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. – Yours, etc,

DAVID CASSIDY,

Dublin 9.

Sir, – The Irish Times did Ireland and the world proud on Tuesday with your special tribute to the late, great John Hume. RIP. It stopped us in our tracks and made us pause and try to take in the magnitude of his achievement, his legacy and dare I say, his humility.

I’m not sure that it is possible for us right now to fully absorb and assimilate his passing and his level of greatness, but as a former student of mine wrote (in an English essay in 2002), “John Hume is a legend”. – Yours, etc,

JOHN MCHUGH,

Deputy Principal,

Loreto Secondary School,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – As we pay tribute to the late John Hume for transforming the relationship between politicians both in the North and South, we should also remember Mr Hume as a true humanitarian, whose interests extended far beyond Ireland.

Mr Hume will long be remembered at GOAL as a deeply committed supporter of our work around the world over many years through his friendship with our founder, John O’ Shea. Mr Hume consistently demonstrated his commitment to tackling injustice and poverty at home and around the globe.

He inspired our staff and GOAL remembers his kindness when he donated a portion of his prize money from the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize to support GOAL’s work in Malawi. It was a powerful statement to the thousands of staff and the communities we work with.

When the 1994 ceasefire agreement was announced, Mr Hume chose to wear a GOAL tie for the waiting press outside Government Buildings in Dublin, a significant gesture, reminding us all that while Ireland suffered hugely during the Troubles, other nations were also struggling with the devastating consequences of war and conflict.

In Mr Hume’s own words, he expressed a wish to see Ireland as an example to men and women everywhere and of what can be achieved by living for ideals . . . an Ireland of partnership where we wage war on want and poverty . . . where we build together a future that can be as great as our dreams allow.

Mr Hume’s place in history is assured, his legacy is to present us all with a challenge, and to seek out every opportunity for a resolution, to help us carry the memory of a man who strove for peace until the end. If we all can be inspired by Mr Hume’s desire to live for our ideals, it will be a fitting and living memorial to a wonderful humanitarian. He will be warmly remembered. – Yours, etc,

SIOBHAN WALSH,

CEO, GOAL,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.